The Hong Kong police have briefly detained — then released — a score of pro-democracy protesters. They were denouncing the decision of the Chinese government in Beijing to limit a voting reform intended for Hong Kong’s elections in 2017. The opposition activists demonstrated at the hotel where an envoy announced the proposed reform, which falls short of allowing universal suffrage.
Li Fei, a deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee said that Beijing would still control the candidates the people could vote for as their Hong Kong government chief executive. The opposition rejects this as breaking a promise of letting Hong Kong enjoy a “one person, one vote” principle. It says Beijing vetting the political line-up, effectively appointing Hong Kong’s chief executive, is fake democracy.
Hong Kong Legislative Council Member Leung Kwok-Hung said: “The Beijing regime tries to devastate what they have promised for the Hong Kong people, One Country Two Systems. I think universal suffrage means there should be no censorship on the candidates in any election.”
The Standing Committee is China’s one-party legislature. Its idea of democratic progress would need two-thirds support in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to pass — where the opposition holds more than one third of the seats.
Facing the protest movement, which is much more vigorous here than in the bulk of China, current Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying tried to offer reassurance: “The decision wasn’t designed to exclude certain members of Hong Kong or members of certain factions from running for the chief executive position.”
Free election advocates are planning civil disobedience protests in the heart of the former British colony of 7.2 million people. Beijing is concerned that if it makes concessions in Hong Kong, the precedent could undermine the all-powerful ruling Communist Party and possibly encourage challengers in other parts of China.